An epitome of the Silent Generation: daughter, sister, wife, mother, grand/great grandmother, and trusted friend, left our lives here, for an eternal life in the Light of the Lord. Shirley Mae Barta (née Price) died April 2, 2021, from age-related complications after a stroke at Hallmar-Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, IA. She would have been 92 years young on her approaching May birthday. Due to COVID-19 protocols, a private funeral service will be held. A livestream of the funeral service may be accessed at https://www.stludmila.org/
under the Watch Mass Live tab starting at 10:30 AM on Thursday April 8th.
Shirley was born in Cedar Rapids on May 29, 1929 during the onset of the Great Depression, the oldest of six siblings, to Phyllis (née Ramsey) and William A. Price. At about age ten, her family established a home on 18th St. SW in Cedar Rapids. A fond memory of hers as an elementary school-age child was sitting on the embankment west of her home, overlooking the CRANDIC Railroad (RR) tracks and waving to her father, a CRANDIC RR clerk, as their trains rolled by below. Shirley attended the former Lincoln Elementary School and later attended the then Wilson High School in Cedar Rapids.
After the war, Shirley met a young, handsome, ex-Merchant Marine and WWII veteran, Richard (Dick) S. Barta. Dick had relocated to his former hometown of Cedar Rapids after his military service. The two married on March 22, 1948 in Cedar Rapids. Seven children were born from this union. Shirley had not been raised in the Catholic faith but became a true convert. She was a regular Mass attender at St. Ludmila Church in Cedar Rapids and became a reliable volunteer for numerous church and school activities for over 60 years. Some of her many volunteer roles included: home room mother, lunch server in the cafeteria, kolache baker for the parish's annual Kolache Festival fundraiser, and funeral dinner server.
The growing family moved to a home on J Street SW in Cedar Rapids--a stone's throw from her high school and St. Ludmila. All seven children attended Catholic elementary school at St. Ludmila's, and Catholic high school at the former LaSalle High School in Cedar Rapids. Shirley was truly an "overtime without pay" homemaker and mother while raising and caring for her family and frequent visitors from her "extended" family of neighborhood kids, especially the Hulberts, Colberts, and Trachtas.
True to her Silent Generation legacy, and well before the term multi-tasking came into common usage, Shirley was a veritable jack-of-all-trades worker in many roles: shopper, cook, cleaner, launderer, accountant, and caregiver for the family, as her children grew up and moved out into the world on their own paths. She continued in this role until the death of her husband. Never affluent, there were, however, without fail, clean clothes and house, regular meals, snacks and treats, and most importantly, loving motherly care to all. Treasured times, especially once her children began moving away, all would agree, were family gatherings, (typically weekends), at her home, (relocated to the St. Ludmila Church basement when the crowd became too large). These also included holidays, weekdays when people could come into town, and birthday celebrations for her great-grandson Teddy.
With youngest daughters Susan and Angela still in elementary school, she determined it was time to finally work with pay, and concurrent with Dick's retirement, undertook a part-time job as a cook for 200+ elementary school children in the St. Ludmila school cafeteria, minutes from their home. Shirley and Dick also moved from their home on the west side of the block from St. Ludmila to a home just east of St. Ludmila on 22nd Ave SW during her years at the cafeteria. She worked at the cafeteria in this role many years until her "official retirement."
Shirley would have made the ancient Greeks proud with her stoic demeanor and intangible personal qualities: this was in no small part due to her upbringing and life experiences during the difficult years of The Great Depression and WWII. She was one who was always humble, responsible, even-tempered, and ever patient; she possessed a strong work ethic, was selfless, caring, loving, and always a willing listener. She was always looking out for her family's and other people's needs and concerns, with little regard for her own, and rarely one to complain, or have pity on herself. She was much the realist and very practical in all things. An example of this realist nature was her acceptance of Dick’s adoption and use of the loving nickname “George” for her; origins of this are lost in time, but its use always preceded a question or request to her. When necessary, she could also be the disciplinarian, but always in a way to make one understand the errors or misguided thinking of one’s ways, and never in a mean or spiteful fashion.
In her leisure time, Shirley was fond of reading from a broad range of materials: current novels, non-fiction, magazines, and the daily local newspaper. Keeping up to date with current events from local news broadcasts, especially TV, were also important to her. She enjoyed word-search games. Most impressively, she was a devoted, tenacious, and true master of jigsaw puzzles; even the most difficult ones she saw through to completion.
There is a Latin phrase cor cordium, "heart of hearts," where the center of our innermost being lives. Shirley understood, as did all who knew and loved her that in her, and our heart of hearts that St. Peter had called for her to join in everlasting life with the Lord. Her journey here was complete, she knew this. She had lived a good and true life; it was time to leave us. Our loss is heaven's gain. Thank you, Shirley, for giving us roots to grow and flourish in our own lives, and wings to follow our own pathways and passions. You will always live on in our heart of hearts.
Shirley was preceded in death by her husband and all her Barta in-laws. Survivors of the Barta family include Jacqueline (Dale) Hanna of Cedar Rapids, IA, their daughter Lauren (Nathan) Vondra, and the Vondra's son Theodore (Teddy), of East Dubuque, IL; Dianne (Stephen) Krumbholz of Coralville, IA; Richard (Debra Shonka-Barta) Barta of Silver Spring, MD, and their sons Richard (fiancée Allison) of Washington, D.C., and Alexander (girlfriend Francesca) of New York, NY ; Robert (Susan Ross-Barta) Barta of Iowa City, IA; Cynthia (Thomas) Smidt of Greene, IA, and their sons Ethan (Elyssa) Smidt of Fruitland, IA, and Kellen Smidt of Sioux Falls, SD; Susan (Reid) Barta-Riggle of Green Bay, WI, and their daughter Hannah (Peter) Weck of Little Chute, WI, and son Jonah Riggle of Wichita, KS; and Angela (Douglas) Schulte of West Des Moines, IA and their daughters Emily Schulte (fiancé Marc) of Urbandale, IA, Madison Schulte of West Des Moines, and a son, Grant Schulte of West Des Moines.
Shirley was also preceded in death by her parents and brothers Donald, Russell, and Willard. Shirley is also survived by a sister Bonita (Bonnie) Price, brother Phillip Price, both of Cedar Rapids; sister-in-law Paula Price of Willard, OH, and over 35 nieces and nephews.
We are ever grateful to the staff at Hallmar for the invaluable love, care, and assistance they provided to Shirley. A special thank you as well to the staff of Hospice of Mercy, for their tender care to Shirley, and guidance and encouragement to us, in her final days.
The family requests that any memorial donations for Shirley be directed to:
St. Ludmila Church, 2107 J St. SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.